Sunday, 17 October 2010

Auckland to the Bay of Islands, New Zealand

I flew from Brisbane to Auckland, New Zealand, which was a 3 hour flight. On first appearance New Zealand has a very similar feel to Australia, same urban landscape, etc, but with more English weather. One day it was really hot, next day pouring with rain! I stayed in downtown Auckland city so it was really easy to walk everywhere. I visited 'The Domain' where the War memorial museum is located. It's a really pretty, huge open area, with indoor Winter gardens which were beautiful. The following day I took a ferry to Rangitoto Island which is a volcanic island that erupted from the sea about 600 years ago. It was raining quite hard by now, but I still decided to hike to the top hoping the rain would stop. It didn't! I got soaked walking for about 40 minutes to the top and instead of spectacular views of the crater, and the island, all I could see was a fine mist, so disappointing! I could also visit other islands with my ticket but the rain didn't let off all day, so I caught the ferry to Devonport, a 15 minute trip from Auckland, which is a really picturesque town, with lots of cafes, antique and book shops, and very pretty colourful houses. It was nice but not so enjoyable to wander around in the rain.
I took a bus from Auckland north to the Bay of Islands and stayed in Paihia. Paihia is a very pretty beach town, from which you can take a day trip to Cape Reinga, the most northerly point of New Zealand. We stopped at Puketi karui forest and did the Manginagina scenic walk to view the native flora and fauna. Next on to Cape Reinga, where the Tasman sea meets the Pacific ocean, and you could see the waves crashing together where they met. There is a quaint light house right on the headland, which you could walk to. The cape is a spiritual place for Maori's who believe it is the departing place of the Maori spirit. After lunch at the beach we headed to Ninety Mile beach via Te Paki quicksand stream, if the bus stopped we would be sunk! We stopped off on the way to go sandboarding, which was great fun. We climbed to the top of a very steep sands dune, laid on our boogie boards and then went sliding all the way down. We drove along some of Ninety Mile beach in the bus which was specially built for driving on sand. On the way back to Paihia we stopped at Mangonui, a fishing village that apparently has the best fish and chips in New Zealand! The following day, we headed to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds where the treaty was signed between the British government and the Maori's, however as there were 2 versions, one English and one Maori, there were differing interpretations and the obligations the treaty placed on each side has been in contention ever since. We had hired bikes from the hostel so we also went to Haruru falls, which we thought was a 5km walk, so we locked our bikes to the fence and started walking, not realising that was only one way. They were good though. When we got back to our bikes, the combination lock had been broken, so that the numbers weren't visible and we had to call our hostel manager for him to come and cut the chain with bolt cutters. He thought it would probably have been some local Maori boys. That's the only attempt I am aware of on all my travels to steal from me, so I think I am doing well so far.

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